Sharks Take a Bite Out of New Jersey’s Mudturtles

 Sharks Rugby Club
The undefeated Sharks tore up the field. Heather Dubin

    The Montauk Rugby Club pulverized the Union Mudturtles, who hail from New Jersey, with a 44-11 win at a Division II match at Herrick Park in East Hampton Saturday.
    With three games left in the season, the Sharks (5-0) played excellent offense, and are well on their way to the championship.
    The match got off to a shaky start with Zach Brenneman sidelined with a hurt knee. Matt Brierly, who was back for his first full game after breaking his arm (not in rugby), joined him soon after for a cut under his eye. Steve Turza and Mark Scioscia were on hand to pick up the slack, scoring three tries between them. The first try of the day was a double-trouble effort when Turza passed the ball to Scioscia. Following with six more tries, the Sharks set the tone for Saturday’s performance. The conversion points were made by Gordon Trotter, team captain, and the score was amped to 7-0.
    A penalty kick landed the Mudturtles on the board 7-3, but they had difficulty penetrating the Montauk defensive line, which was led by Nick Lawler, second row. His stellar defense tactics made him the A-Side Man of the Match for the day. The next try was scored by Ricardo Salmeron, his fourth of the season, after Hamish Cuthbertson snatched the ball from a stolen scrum and passed it over to Salmeron.
Trotter sealed the deal with a penalty kick, pushing the Sharks ahead to 15-3. Union had a penalty kick of its own, making it 15-6, but it quickly lost steam as John Glennon scored a try, and Trotter once again made the conversion. Right before the half, Matt Brierley had his first A-side try, and the score smoldered at 27-6.
In the second half, the Mudturtles had their first try, but they were not able to break Montauk’s resistance for the rest of the match. Their psyche must have taken a plunge as the Sharks made three more tries by Mike Bunce, Turza, and Scioscia, and another conversion by Trotter. This game had the largest point and try total of the season so far. The B-side game was a tighter match, with Union ahead at 10-0, but the Sharks were able to take it at 20-15. Scott Abran was the B-side Man of the Match.
The team captain spoke highly of Montauk’s effort this week. “The boys stuck to it and played very well,” said Trotter. “We had a couple of injuries during the week at practice; one guy separated his shoulder.” This meant the team had a couple of players in positions they don’t normally play, but obviously that didn’t show on the scoreboard.
    And though Trotter said it was tough to play into the wind during the second half, again, conditions were no deterrent for the Sharks.
    “It’s good to have Nick Finazzo back. Jarrel Walker and Hamish Cuthbertson are playing really good rugby for us,” said Trotter. “We had a goal this week to not let any tries in. We only allowed one,” he added. 
    The Montauk team, whose players range in age from 22 to 40, has a lot of depth and good young athletes to call on, according to Erik Brierley. Asked at what age people stop playing rugby, Trotter replied, “We don’t.”
    “I feel great,” Matt Brierley said. “It was good to be back finally on the field.”
    The next two matches are away, and the final will be at Herrick Park on Nov. 5. Looking ahead, Erik Brierley said, “Hopefully we’ll stay undefeated. Today was a huge game for us to win. We need to keep going and keep our heads about us. We don’t want to get too comfortable with winning.”